December 13, 2013

Blame the parents? Punish the parents

When you're 16, steal some beer, get absurdly drunk with your friends, then get behind the wheel and kill four people and seriously injure the aforementioned friends, do you blame your parents?  And if you manage to convince someone that it WAS your parents and your wealthy, no-consequences-apply upbringing that caused you to behave with reckless abandon, do you thank your parents, or do you just ignore them with abandon, as you do everything else?

News feeds are blowing up with this tale out of Texas, where everything is bigger, apparently including the balls of kids and parents and lawyers and judges.  Here's Ethan Couch, the innocent looking
Photo captured from Raw Story
beer-stealing, heavy drinking, Valium popping, drunken driving   killer who, according to his attorney, grew up with mean, manipulative, buy-your-way-out-of-trouble parents and so never learned how to say "I'm sorry" or how to behave in polite society.

Poor Ethan. Three hours after the accident, his blood alcohol level was still three times the legal limit. According to reports,
Couch was going 70 miles per hour in his father's Ford F-350 pickup in a 40-mph zone when he lost control and started a deadly chain of collisions that claimed the lives of 24 year old Breanna Mitchell, whose car had broken down on the side of the road; Hollie Boyles and her 21 year old daughter Shelby, who lived nearby and come outside to help Mitchell; and Brian Jennings, a youth pastor who was also playing the role of good Samaritan.
According to the psychologist who's known Poor Ethan since this past June (having begun treating him shortly after the accident), he didn't have any friends, he didn't know what high school he went to, or where he went to church.  He had essentially raised himself, his mother showering him with presents, his father a man who didn't "have relationships, he takes hostages" and there was a nasty divorce.  Intellectually, the psychologist said, Poor Ethan was 18; emotionally though, he was only twelve.

Poor Ethan. The kinder, gentler judge he had, the woman who decided not to send him to jail for 20 years as requested by the prosecution but instead to probation for ten years, believed what she was told by the defense and the psychologist, and thinks that intensive inpatient therapy is the answer. And 'Take Hostages' Daddy is willing to fork over $450K a year for the privilege of sending Poor Ethan across the country to California for treatment.

I guess it's only fair, since for a long time folks have been blaming bad behavior of poor people on their upbringing and lack of economic 'benefits' like the kind Poor Ethan had to deal with, and we've blamed the bad behavior of young men on them being raised by single moms, with no strong father figure in the picture, that we come full circle and now blame rich parents for the horrendous behavior of their kids.

But if we're going to blame Mommy and Daddy for Poor Ethan's behavior, why don't we punish them?  If they're responsible, make them pay for their ruined child's actions. Not the $450K to send Poor Ethan to camp in Cali. Let's make them pay in a way that is less pleasant for them. Clearly, throwing the kid away doesn't seem to be a big deal -- that's what they've already done if we believe the psychologist, defense attorney, and the judge.

First, let's find a place for Poor Ethan and his pathetic parents somewhere in Texas, preferably affiliated with the criminal justice system, where the survivors, the families of the victims, can keep an eye on them, and can visit them any time they want, day or night, and ask them what the hell they were thinking. Shout at them, or scream at them, or just sit and stare at them.  What the families do is up to them; that the parents and Poor Ethan are available for the activity is what's important.

Have all three of them attend this intensive, inpatient therapy that is supposedly going to be the answer to making the 'spoiled brat' a productive member of society.

Let's take away a boatload or ten of Daddy's money, and set up long term, ridiculously well funded accounts for the families of the four who were murdered; for the victim now left blinking incredulously at his sad fate; for all the other passengers in the truck; for the church left without its pastor; and for the school system that apparently so miserably failed Poor Ethan that he doesn't even know its name, so that they can figure out how never to let a child like this fall through the cracks again..

Let's make Mommy and Daddy perform 2000 hours of community service, together, during each of the ten years of Poor Ethan's probation. Yes, they must do the service together, so they can learn what they should have been doing as parents all those years when they were messing with Poor Ethan.

And, since if Poor Ethan fails to abide by the letter of the probation, he will end up in jail; to be fair, and just, so should Mommy and Daddy.

Oh, and Poor Ethan, who never learned how to say I'm Sorry, maybe this'll help:
I'm sorry, so sorry, that I was such a fool I didn't know love could be so cruel oh, oh, oh, oh, uh-oh, oh yes. You tell me mistakes are part of being young, but that don't right the wrong that's been done. 
 Poor Ethan.

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